Posted by: Chris­™ | January 17, 2008

Stop Attributing Good to God

Well, this is likely to alienate a good portion of my readership, as I’ve noted that a large portion of WordPress readership are devoutly religious. However, I am becoming undeniably bothered by a level of irresponsibility expressed by religious followers. I promise I won’t speak ill of religion in and of itself, but I do want to examine this common sense of viewing common areas of life as dealings with ‘immense’ higher concepts.

Why can’t we be responsible for our own joy? Why are we doomed as cogs in an existential machine that attributes everything great in our lives to the will of some higher being? Why are we apparently unable to do things on our own, instead requiring the strength of someone above us?

I’ve heard a lot of excuses for this type of behavior. “Humans are foul creatures devoid of joy; all things good are derived from God and we must seek Him to enjoy these great things.” Or. “God is like a parent teaching a child. The child is ignorant of the world and he needs to rely on the more experienced parent figure to truly teach him, in order to grow.”

Firstly, I admit that human society is not a pure construct by any means, nor are individuals all of utter nobility. Nonetheless, that does not mean we do not possess features of good, nobility and virtue. Countless people have demonstrated these feats throughout history, and still we continue to practice these traits every day. This is not because we have a higher being to guide us or the threat of hell to force us (though maybe for some, unfortunately), but instead because we have an internal moral compass that we can follow. Certainly perception on some areas of morality depends on the individual, but there are constants and often we can follow these completely of our own will.

Furthermore, it is true that we are ignorant to a great deal of things, so much so that comparing us to children amongst the universe is not very far-fetched. Where I differ in opinion is the declaration that there is an invisible, but omni-present, parent figure who is the only being that can offer us good traits, morals, and true knowledge. Is it really so difficult to rely on one’s self to find the strength for learning, or growth? Even in areas where we believe we are ignorant, we should at least have a conception of the ideal we are trying to reach. With that view in mind, we can subsequently find our own path to the ideal. God is not the one responsible for teaching us.

Essentially, there are people who express a desire to remove one’s self from their own life. By doing this, they become chess pieces in their own lives who live to serve the “Prime Mover.” In addition, when they make a poor choice, it was their own fault and their own recklessness. When they make a wise choice, it was because of the benevolent wisdom of this Prime Mover. They simply utilized His skill, they did not use their own intelligence, or morality, or etc.

I really find this utterly absurd. Regardless of dogma, individuals should have the strength of will to accept responsibility for their own actions as well as for who they are. We should find virtue from our own depth of character and we should be able to live morally by or own wisdom. If you turn these over to God, you are no longer living your life. You are shirking responsibility. You are discrediting your existence. You are devaluing spiritually and becoming a loathsome individual with a weak heart. Even if you are doing good, moral things because you believe it is God working through you, then you are still placing yourself as a pawn to be moved, thus being worthless as an individual. Others might grow from your actions, but you will remain empty in continuum.

I suppose this is my outlet for all those times I’ve kept quiet while reading many web logs about “finding the father so that you may make the right decisions.” I simply find this an insult to my intelligence and to my own sense of self. Please feel free to offer alternate views though, I am always open to expanding my views.

Thanks, as always, for reading. words



  1. Our choices are important, no doubt about that. Yet, God is God. His will will be done.

  2. Bev: You’ve succeeded in saying something that says nothing at all.

    What is His will? How is this really relevant to my post? What are your diminutive statements supposed to imply in regards to your thoughts on what I have already stated about God and personal responsibility?

    Honestly, I would be very curious to know this and more from you.

  3. Well said. Actions are the complete responsibility of the person doing them. Belief in God does not automatically make one’s actions good, just as disbelief in God does not automatically make one’s actions bad. If you (the universal you) think that you can do no wrong because God’s on your side, you’re sorely mistaken.

    It’s interesting that Christianity has much to say on the subject of free will, yet many followers seem to think that every action has been pre-determined by God. A paradox? Indeed.

  4. Well, you’re not going to get rid of me that easily. 🙂

    But a piece of advice… unless it’s meant for humor, try to avoid giving commands (i.e. Stop!). Especially, on the subject line. Lest you become just like what you hate in others.

    And sure, you’re entitled to your opinions. Yet, so is everyone else. Aren’t they, now?

    Good post, man!

  5. I wonder, do you believe in God?

    It’s great to try and empower people to take some credit (and responsibility) in their lives by not attributing everything to the will of something or someone else, but I don’t think insulting others for their beliefs is an effective way of accomplishing that. It’s literally one of the main reasons for all of the conflict that exists between various religions, even between religious and non-religious and/or atheists.

    It’s not necessary to believe in God to do good, but in that same respect, believing in God does not necessarily own the good that those people do. I believe in God personally, but good things that I do are primarily concerned with my personal values and moral compass.

    Who is to say what makes an existence loathsome or worthless? It’s kind of a reckless and irresponsible statement to make about those who have devoted themselves to what they believe is a higher sense of good, specifically those who are *actually* doing good things with those motivations. For instance, I think that historical figures that have carried out atrocities in the name of God (or others) are reprehensible, but the life and actions of those such as Mother Theresa or Martin Luther King Jr. could in no way be described as either loathsome or worthless, though they both share a common thread in their actions being divinely inspired. Additionally, I don’t think they could be described as “empty” in any respect; one could only hope (or pray) to lead such a full life, whatever the motivation.

    I like the basic message though, and I agree. I don’t think there is anything wrong in people taking a little responsibility or even credit for their actions, but I don’t think placing good in God is so bad either.

  6. P.S. Sorry for the expansive comment and I hope I don’t seem like an asshole lol.

  7. Cody: Thanks for your comments budster. I completely agree with your examination. Paradox? Maybe. Irony? Absolutely.

    Chris: Well, I didn’t expect entirely good things to come from writing a strong opinion piece on such a controversial subject matter.

    My command form was more of a device than a real, honest plea.

    Everyone is entitled to their opinions, absolutely. This doesn’t mean they are free from critique though, especially if my opinion is counter to said opinions. I did, however, write this piece with the intent of providing insight and justification for my own beliefs, so I certainly don’t consider it just a tirade against religious beliefs. Hopefully you feel the same.

    Sinjjj: Normally I would answer that, but I would prefer to leave that currently ambiguous in order to leave my post untainted by the assumptions a person would obviously make based on that knowledge.

    Please note that my tirade is against people who state that all things are beyond their control; that good is exclusively from God and evil is exclusively from within themselves (and possibly by the influence of Satan, etc). We’re all welcome to our beliefs but (like yours seem to be), don’t disavow responsibility.

    I do still stand by the fact that shirking all responsibility for your life makes your own existence worthless. Helping others because you’re scared of God’s wrath (or because you believe you are simply a tool of God) doesn’t make you a great person. Yes you do great things and yes others benefit from you. But by thinking in this manner, you are losing your self-awareness and responsibility. There’s something sinister in a person who does good but doesn’t personally believe in the good that they do. If your motivation is not your own, then there is something distinctly empty about your existence, no matter how many others you aid.

    I realize this seems as thought it might be a selfishly flawed argument, but here’s my point: Why can you not do the same good, but not for God, but because you believe it is the right thing to do? The motivation is important too; not just the action.

    Ah, so I’ve left an even longer comment so you don’t feel so bad Sinjy. I also hope I don’t come across as an asshole, because I’m more or less trying to make a point, despite that I am trampling somewhat on other’s beliefs. Plus, controversy increases debate! Thanks for everything so far guys. Feel free to keep adding thoughts.

  8. It was a joke, silly! 🙂

    Seriously, you’re right. Critique is part of the game. Dagnabit!

  9. Chris: Ah! Well I’m silly indeed. I do like to critique things…

  10. I only ask about your beliefs out of curiosity; I didn’t plan on drawing any conclusions or even commenting on your beliefs other than for purely illustrative purposes of comparison.

    Believe it or not, I somewhat agree with most of what you say on the topic, but I guess I just feel… less aggressive lol?… about it. I think it’s wrong to do good (or not do bad) based on “fear” of God, and I hate the term “God-fearing.” However, I do think that many do good things in the name of God not out of fear, but out of love. Perhaps God is not so much an excuse for the good being done, but an explanation of why it feels good. Does that make sense? I don’t agree with the whole “pawn in God’s plan” thing either but perhaps sometimes it’s just a matter of semantics.

    “I do good, God does good, God wants me to do good, hence God does good through me.”

    I’m not a member of any religion, but I see some of their points, even though I disagree with a lot too.

  11. Some may find it easier to attribute all things to a higher power – everything from the good and the bad. In a sense, if we attribute all bad things to an higher entity, there’s no need to take responsibility for a personal mistake and if we are to pursue that logic as a religious philosophy, shant we attribute the good to “him” as well? It helps that such logic helps with personal “humility” too.

    It’s just funny how that religion strain completely goes against contemporary common preachings of being in charge of your own life…

  12. Sinj: Haha, yeah I was wondering if you were playing devil’s advocate a wee bit. I have to say though, I wasn’t really attempting to be aggressive, but I do suppose my frustration leaked into my writing. I’m not expecting to change others anyways, but I would like to at least voice my distaste for their thinking patterns. Belief in God isn’t my issue, but it’s the escapism thinking utilized.

    Jenlin: I agree it is a strange dichotomy, but nonetheless it seems to occur. It’s simply disappointing that we can’t seem to just accept being responsible for ourselves, regardless of good or bad.

    Thanks for stopping by as well! I appreciate your interesting ideas.

  13. I’ve always found it funny that God’s will is always deemed to be ‘good’ or exceedingly ‘meaningful.’ It’s assumed that God is a creator, and that creation must always be good. Yet we are also told we have been created in God’s image; most everything, if not everything, humanity has ever created has had some extreme negative consequence as it progresses; either in our freedoms or intelligence, destruction of our environment, or killing of many multitudes of life. In addition, how are we to know what everything God really wants is for the good of humanity?

    Also, we are told that God is omniscient and all-powerful, and if what we do is truly influenced by God, who is to say that something mundane as clipping our toenails is not also influenced by God? Essentially everything we do would then be influenced or operated by God – we would have no freedoms whatsoever.

    In the end, to me, there are only two main realities (though multiple variations of each). Either there is no God, where everything we are told to believe and attribute to God is false – thus making every action we make meaningless, where we may as well live our lives as we desire (this does not exclude morality, however). Or there is a God, but a God that is either too complex to understand or that has little interest in humanity. In terms of God having little interest in humanity, there might as well be no God. In terms of God being too complex to fathom, attributing anything to God in how we operate our lives also becomes meaningless as its desires would be entirely unknown to humanity – we still might as well live our lives according to our desires. Even in the Christian model of God within the Bible, it doesn’t seem such God would desire the hinderings of what we attribute to it, especially where religion is involved.

    This is somewhat off-topic, but one thing leads to another…

  14. Rev: I’d like to detail my thoughts on each of your realities, but I have a simpler answer to which I generally follow. It’s called, “I don’t know and I will never know for as long as I live, so I shouldn’t bother to speculate it further as no answer I can create will ever be even 1% accurate.”

    You may or may not like this thought pattern, but I really think it’s useless to debate about. Not because I dislike thinking about it, mind you, but because pondering knowledge into a void such as that is a waste of time. I believe in what I do with my life and whatever comes after will be. Quite simply.

  15. In the end, that is my belief as well. Unfortunately, I still tend to over-analyze such things anyway, even knowing such analysis will yield nothing. Even knowing they do me no good 🙂

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